AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A federal appeals court ruled Friday that Texas cannot ban Planned Parenthood from receiving state funds, at least until a lower court has a chance to hear formal arguments.
A three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed Friday with a lower court that there's sufficient evidence the state's law preventing Planned Parenthood from participating in the Women's Health Program is unconstitutional. The program provides basic health care and contraception to 130,000 poor women.
District Court Judge Lee Yeakel had issued an injunction keeping Texas from enforcing the law on Tuesday, but Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott appealed to the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans.
On Friday, the court said Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott hadn't shown that Texas would be irreparably harmed by holding off on enforcing the new law until a trial can be held in Austin.
The so-called affiliate rule passed last year by the Republican-controlled Texas Legislature forbids state agencies from providing funds to an organization affiliated with abortion providers, even if all they share is a name. Eight Planned Parenthood clinics that do not provide abortions sued the state. They claimed the law violated their rights to freedom of speech and freedom of association.
"This case isn't about Planned Parenthood; it's about the women who rely on Planned Parenthood for cancer screenings, birth control, and well-woman exams," said Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. "We won't let politics interfere with the health care that nearly 3 million people a year rely on Planned Parenthood for in Texas and around the country."